NaNoWriMo Day 12: It’s Baaaaaack!!!

Posted: November 12, 2011 in National Novel Writing Month, sci fi
Tags: , , , ,

So, okay. I had to go to a funeral in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday and Friday. That didn’t leave me in the mindset to write much, as you might imagine. Getting back in the groove of writing was a bit of a challenge, but then I simply let the story tell itself. A bit about tonight’s excerpt: We are getting to learn a little bit about Setetenepini, some things about her family, and about the society she comes from. I’ve also discovered that her people are somewhat matriarchal, which was a bit of a surprise. I had assumed that they were more of a meritocracy.

“But, Chris,” I can hear you saying, “this is a story you are writing – how can you not know what is going on in it?” 

Oh, you. You should know by now that A) I’m what you call the classic Unreliable Narrator and B) not knowing where this thing is going is actually kinda fun for me. I’m purposely not finalizing any back-stories or histories or even any ending points just yet. This will either be awesome, or a colossal train-wreck of failure and humiliation. Either way, I learn something, so, yay.

The Battle of Memory

 Sleep never came easy for Setetenepini. Not on board the battle cruisers, not in the barracks, not in school, not at home, not in this hospital/prison they made for her. She fought it, always had, only surrendering at long last, with bloodshot eyes, and with quiet rage at having lost one more time. She would lose, and every night she would dream. It was a terrifying dream, terrifyingly real, and yet it seemed to make no sense. What she dreamed should not be scary at all, and yet, there it was:

Red.

Horizontal stripes, with gold and flecks of blue.

Undulating.

Many becoming one.

An endless void, with nothing in it, forever and ever.

Then she would see the face of a woman, full of concern, grave, ageless. She was utterly foreign in appearance. Her skin was an impossible shade – dark brown like soil, but smooth like waves of silk. She had never seen anyone who looked like her. And yet, she knew, without a shadow of a doubt who she was.

She was the Wise Woman.

Not the Wise Woman of the painters, with her skin the color of gold, her eyes green like the grass, her hair in bronze ringlets turning to gray with age and  understanding. All the painters of old had made the Wise Woman look like a regular person, a kindly old woman. They gave her a stoop, as though she was hunched over from years of tending her Garden with love and care. She could have easily passed for someone’s dear saintly grandmother. And, when the artists wanted to depict her as the Queen, they merely straightened her posture, put her in golden armor and changed her cane to a sword. Gramma in a costume for a masquerade ball.

The face in Setetenepini’s dream was the real deal. She knew it. She was seeing the face of the Queen, of the Wise Woman.

Candace.

 And Candace was talking to her. It was horrifying, awful, dreadful, and yet soothing, somehow. Setetenepini couldn’t understand how this face could elicit such contradictory emotions, but, there it was. Candace spoke to her.

Of course, Candace had spoken to others, in  the dim and far away past. She had told those who would listen all sorts of things, all her secrets, all her knowledge. Commenters had expounded on her teachings, and Candace’s words became fixed, immobile, eternal. Thus, for millennia, there had been no real need for Candace to speak to anyone new. What else was there to say? Only crazy people and heretics claimed to hear from the Wise Woman in our modern era, Setetenepini thought. So which one am I?

 Neither, Candace would say.

 I am sharing this with you, so that you will know, and be prepared.

They are coming.

 Who?

 I don’t know. But they will come; they will come here, to your world. You will have to fight them. With all the knowledge of war that I am giving you.

 How can you not know who they are? You’re the Wise Woman.

  There are things I don’t know. I’m as surprised as you are about that, to tell the truth. I do know, however, that they are coming, and they will bring the emptiness you’re seeing.

 From the time she was a child, Setetenepini had learned not to discuss her dreams with anyone. Spankings, ridicule, even an exorcism. The Officiant was very old, was a very scary man, with a permanent scowl. The exorcism was grueling, humiliating. It only ended when young Setetenepini lied. She acted; she wriggled about on the floor of her bedroom, she screamed, she through her self about. She really sold it. The Officiant finally nodded, smiled grimly that his job was done. He gave her water, wiped her brow, and told her mother that she was cured. That night, Setetenepini herself had thought, maybe the dreams will really stop, now. Maybe I can be normal.

 The dreams didn’t stop.

She wasn’t normal.

She was, however, becoming adept at convincing others that she was just your average, everyday young girl. She was an avid student of the ordinary, the commonplace. What’s the music that normal people her age listened to? That was her favorite, of course. Who was the most popular boy in school? Well, she thought he was just dreamy, too. When the other girls her age got wild, acted out, talked back, she did too; she adopted their slang and their outlandish fashion. When those girls started to come to their senses, well, it was a miracle. The Setetenepinis got their sweet daughter back, just like everybody else.

 And, still, every night, the dreams. The fight to stay awake. Did lack of sleep cause her to have these strange dreams, cause a psychotic break, or was it the other way around? She went out to the clubs when she was of age, found her taste for drink by studying what the normal girls, her friends of the moment, drank. If she drank, would she black out and not have the dreams? No; she was merely drunk, still dreaming. She would bob and weave, she would slur her words, she would vomit. She would awake, tired, hungover, like everyone else. The difference was she would always, always wake up with her horrifying memories.

 In fact, the only thing she did that was out of the ordinary, was to join the Divine Military. She had to do it, regardless of her family’s traditions, regardless of her mother’s wishes. If she was going to have these dreams of colors, of a terrifying void, of a totally foreign Candace, then she was going to study as much of the Divine as she could stand. She would pore over the Commentaries; she would memorize The Pearl; she would write out her own copy, counting letter for letter, knowing which one was the exact middle point. She would study the mysteries of the Sword, the Crown, and the Shield. She would tend to her own Garden, growing the very plants and herbs Candace spoke of, the very ways she taught. She would become an Officiant herself, if she had to.

 She would never, never, perform an exorcism on anyone.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved

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